Lessons From a Life in Dance Class

I’m a big believer in ubiquitous learning – that education can, does, and should exist everywhere, not only in classrooms and tutoring offices. Many of you know that when I’m not at LogicPrep, I can be found dancing in New York City, and sometimes it seems to me that everything I know, I know from dance.

Photo Credit: Ayaha Otsuka

Okay, okay -- maybe not everything. I do think, though, that many of the greatest lessons in my life have been lessons I’ve learned in the dance studio. The ones below are some of the best, and also some of the hardest. I’m still working on most of them.

 

Listen.

Listen. To yourself, your body, the bodies of those around you – if you listen closely enough, they will tell you what they need. Quiet your own thoughts and expectations and truly take in the information that is available to you. Stillness or silence is sometimes required. Patience always is.

 

Make choices and commit to them, even if they’re risky.

“Bold choices beget bold results,” as one of my teachers would say. Trust and follow your instincts.

 

Be ready to adapt.  

Especially when one of those risky choices doesn’t pan out the way you thought it would, or when the status quo changes. Listen, observe, and change course as necessary.

 

Share the space.  

Literally and figuratively. Make room for and be gracious towards those around you.

Photo Credit: Scott Shaw

Photo Credit: Scott Shaw

Take up space.  

Equally important – make room for and be gracious towards yourself. Be honest and unapologetic about how much you need.

 

Stay grounded and connected.  

To your community of people, to your values, to the space that you’re in. Also to the floor. Taking a few moments to lie on your back and to connect with the floor does wonders. Trust me.

 

Be present in the current moment.  

Leave your plans, your intentions, your schedules, your worries, your to-do lists at the door. They can wait until class is over.  Focus on being where you are.

 

Treat every moment like it counts.  

One of my teachers used to say, “Warming up is still dancing.” Treat it as such.

 

Enjoy the effort.  

Most good things in life require work or effort, but that work doesn’t have to be something that you just “get through” to get to the reward. The effort in and of itself can be satisfying, and even enjoyable. Savor it when you can.

Photo Credit: Vita Generalova

Always be a student.  

This is perhaps the most important one. Dancers of all ages and of all levels are always in class, always seeking new information. Continued learning is a regular (and essential) part of life. There’s always more to learn, whether you’re a toddler in plasticky ballet slippers bought at Payless, an acclaimed performer in custom-made pointe shoes, or anywhere in between. There are always new discoveries to be made by digging in deeper, more context to recognize by zooming out, and more perspectives to gain to find by shifting focus. And even if you hate a class, or if it’s not your style, there’s always something valuable you can take away from it.

 

-Gretchen, Academic Director